This week, I’m so excited to bring you an interview with author Mary Ellis. One of the unanticipated pleasures of being a writer is getting to know other writers along the way, and Mary Ellis has always embodied her faith in the friendliness and helpful suggestions she offers to more amateur writers like me. She’s involved in the burgeoning subcategory of Christian fiction referred to as Amish fiction–tales of a community that fascinates readers by its very difference. I hope you will both enjoy this interview and check out Mary’s books.
Interview with Mary Ellis
MKJ: Tell us a little about your background, Mary. How did you get interested in Amish culture and then in writing about it?
ME: I have observed and respected them my entire life. As a child I planned to marry an Amish man when I grew up, until my mother convinced me I wouldn’t like the amount of work an Amish wife faces each day. When I committed to writing solely Christian fiction, writing about these gentle-hearted people was a natural choice for me.
MKJ: You’ve written seven novels centered around the Amish, right? What do you think it is about the Amish and their lifestyle that fascinates today’s readers, whose own lives are so very different?
ME: There is simplicity and order in their rural lifestyles, which appeals to those of us with fast-paced, multi-tasking lives. (which is everyone non-Amish, no?) Plus the Amish keep their Christian faith front-and-center seven days a week. This devotion appeals to Christians caught up in the “real world” where we’re bombarded with crime and evil-doings on TV, in newspapers and for some, in their workplace.
MKJ: I understand that you are beginning a new series of novels with Living in Harmony. Tell us the premise of that series. How many books will there be? When will Living in Harmony be available?
ME: The series is called New Beginnings and it’s about young people who leave overcrowded and expensive Lancaster County, PA for new opportunities across the country. What they discover, however, is the rules governing Amish lives can differ greatly from those they grew up with. Living in Harmony is about an ultra-conservative Amish district in Maine which I visited last summer. There will be three books in the series—Love Comes to Paradise will release in Feb. of 2013.
MKJ: Of all of your books, my own favorite remains Abigail’s New Hope. Abigail is an unlicensed Amish midwife, who administers a prescription drug in a vain attempt to save the life of one of her patients and finds herself in serious legal trouble as a result. Did that story have a real life inspiration?
ME: Yes, indeed it did. I based my story (loosely) on a real life case that happened about an hour from my home. I visited the Justice Center and cell block where the midwife had been incarcerated. The street-side prayer vigil and many events actually took place. But I fictionalized details about my midwife to not embarrass the woman, who still lives in the area.
MKJ: Now that I’ve confessed my partiality for Abigail, do you have a particular favorite among your books? Or is that like asking a mother about her children?
ME: My favorite, honestly, is my latest, An Amish Family Reunion, for two reasons: First, I got to reconnect with characters I created in my original series, the Miller Family series. And secondly, my romantic hero and heroine fall in love at Niagara Falls—my favorite vacation destination of all time. My husband and I go there at least twice a year. Luckily, we live only three-and-a-half hours away.
MKJ: You’ve worked in the corporate world and also the world of education. Now you are writing full time. Do you miss the other occupations you’ve followed in the past? What are some of the challenges of a writer’s life?
ME: I do not miss working away from home, although I enjoyed each job at the time. Every life has “seasons” and now is my season to work at home. However, I’m shocked how little free time I have! My hours in front of the computer stretch far longer than hours on any outside job. Now that I’m my own boss, I’ve discovered I’m a tough taskmaster. There’s no more hanging out at the coffeemaker.
MKJ: If readers would like to know more information about you and your books, where should they look? I can be reached at:
My books are published by Harvest House and sold at CBD, Amazon, B&N and anywhere Christian books are sold. Thanks so much, Mary, for inviting me to your blog and many blessings on you, your family, and your writing!